Monday, May 26, 2008

Talk of Murder

The leader of The Gambia delivered a lulu of a speech recently. President Yahya Jammeh said he intends to behead gays.

Not the finest policy statement I've ever heard.

Speaking at a political rally, President Jammeh announced gay people had 24 hours to leave the West African nation, the BBC reported. He told the crowd he would "cut off the head" of any gay person found in The Gambia.

The president promised "stricter laws than Iran" concerning homosexuality.

In this Olympic year, what a spectacular idea for international competition: a contest between The Gambia and Iran to see which country can kill more of its own people for less reason. The winner gets a gold noose.

Jammeh said, "The Gambia is a country of believers . . . sinful and immoral practices [such] as homosexuality will not be tolerated in this country."

According to The Advocate, the president told another sinful and immoral group to beat it as well: criminals. I, of course, don't like gays to be lumped together with crooks. I suppose the Gambian criminals were offended at being lumped together with gays.

Jammeh directed landlords and hotel owners to boot gays out before security forces conduct a promised mass search.

Just try and imagine being a gay or lesbian Gambian under these conditions. I think I'd chain myself to a European embassy. Or even better, to a European ambassador.

A number of gay men have fled to The Gambia after a crackdown in neighboring Senegal in recent months. Out of the frying pan, into the inferno.

President Jammeh got support from Gambia's Daily Observer newspaper. Apparently he always does. In an editorial titled "Gays-Free Gambia," the editors wrote that theirs is a Muslim and Christian country, and the Quran and Bible condemn homosexuality.

The editorial noted, "Look, we are not interested in stoning anyone, even homosexuals."

Oh, good!

"What our president is saying, and we agree with him totally ('as usual' I hear you moan!) is this: Ours is a society guided by religious principles."

Those principles "leave no room for homosexuality," the editors wrote, before ending with a plea: "So, please respect our religions, cultures and traditions by keeping your homosexuality out of our country."

Um, no. When customs include murdering people just because they're different, those customs aren't worth respecting. Even more to the point, gayness is as much Gambia's as it is Holland's or America's. The claim that homosexuality is inflicted on countries is a huge helping of hooey too often served up by African leaders, and apparently by their assistant chefs, known as newspaper editors.

Gambia's President Jammeh seems to excel at hooey. Last year he startled the world by claiming he could cure AIDS. In three days. With herbs.

The Advocate reported that Jammeh's presidential Web site showed pictures of him mixing the formulas and laying his hands on patients' heads. He said he could also cure asthma.

"The mandate I have is that HIV/AIDS cases can be treated on Thursdays," the president announced in a speech before dignitaries, including foreign ambassadors, who must've wondered what the hell was special about Thursdays.

"That is the good news and the bad news is that I cannot treat more than 10 patients every Thursday . . . For asthma, I have to choose between Saturday and Friday . . . Within three days the person should be tested again and I can tell you that he/she will be negative."

And warthogs will fly.

Here's hoping, praying, that his promise to kill gays is just as empty as his claim of an AIDS cure. Better a blowhard than a butcher.